Five-star Haaland leads Manchester City to 7-0 rout of Leipzig
MANCHESTER, England, March 14 (Reuters) – Erling Haaland became the third player in Champions League history to score five goals in a game as he led Manchester City to an unrelenting 7-0 rout of RB Leipzig in the second leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.
The victory, which equalled City’s biggest European win, sent Pep Guardiola’s side into the quarter-finals 8-1 on aggregate, with Ilkay Gundogen and Kevin De Bruyne also on target for City in a devastating display at the Etihad Stadium.
It was a record-breaking night for the 22-year-old Haaland, who became Manchester City’s top goalscorer in a season as he took his tally for the campaign to 39 goals, vaulting him past Tommy Johnson’s mark from 1928-29.
He also became the youngest player to reach 30 Champions League goals as he moved on to 33, hitting that mark in 25 games, the fewest ever.
“It’s a big night. Firstly, I’m proud to play in this competition, I love it. Five goals. To win 7-0 is amazing,” he said.
“My super strength is scoring goals. Should I be honest? A lot of goals today, I didn’t think. I was just trying to get it into the back of the net,” he added. “A lot of it is being quick in the mind and trying to put it where the goalkeeper is not.”
Haaland hinted he was in for a big night with a quick-fire brace, slotting home a penalty in the 22nd minute after Benjamin Henrichs was adjudged to have handled in the box following a VAR review, with the Norwegian celebrating with a knee slide and salute.
He found the net again 19 seconds after the kickoff.
Haaland pressured Leipzig’s keeper into a poor clearance that fell to De Bruyne. The Belgian’s shot came back off the crossbar and bounced up for Haaland to head home.
His fifth hat-trick in all competitions this season arrived in first-half stoppage time when Ruben Dias’s header bobbled along the line and Haaland rushed in to force it into the net.
“Fabulous,” Guardiola said on Haaland’s night. “He has a huge competitor mentality, he’s there and yeah, scored five goals which is not easy.”
Gundogen made it 4-0 in the 49th, driving a low finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, before Haaland capped his history-making night with two more from close range in the 53rd and 57th minutes.
Guardiola substituted the Norwegian in the 62nd minute, perhaps sparing Leipzig further humiliation, but denying Haaland the opportunity to score a record-breaking sixth in a single Champions League game.
“I told him (Guardiola) I would love to score a double hat-trick but what can I do?,” Haaland said.
De Bruyne curled in a stunning seventh goal for good measure seconds before the final whistle.
Manchester City have never hoisted the Champions League trophy, coming closest in 2021 when they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the final. They lost to Real Madrid in last season’s semis.
Leipzig manager Marco Rose knew before kickoff Haaland would pose a massive challenge, and he was right.
“He had a great night. He was so hungry,” Rose said. “He scored goals with the foot and head, won second balls, deep runs. It looked really simple.”